Detroit Homeowner Arrested While Trying To Remove Squatter From Her Home

| by Jared Keever

A Detroit homeowner says she can’t sell her home because there is a squatter living in it. Trying to remove the unwelcome guest has already led to one altercation, but the owner, Sarah Hamilton, has vowed to keep fighting. 

Hamilton told WJBK that Lynn Williams is living in her home illegally, preventing her from showing the home to a potential buyer. 

"I'm doing a third party short sale on the house. I went to meet the guy there to basically finalize everything, let him walk through and there was someone squatting in the home,” Hamilton said. 

Williams is an old neighbor, but she was never given permission to live in the empty house, Hamilton said.

Williams’ boyfriend, Lucas Burger, said he secured permission for Williams to live there from a man in New Jersey identified only as “Jamal.”

“He's like, 'we'll do a deal,'” Burger said. “‘(As long as) she keeps my property safe.’”

[Sarah Hamilton (L)/Lynn Williams (R)]

But Hamilton said she has no idea who Jamal is and because she has the deed to the property, she is the only one who could give such permission.

Squatting in Detroit was actually legal until late September, but the rules have changed according to Curbed Detroit. Prior to the legal changes, anyone caught squatting could only be charged with trespassing. Squatters also had many of the same rights as renters and were subject to eviction processes just as though they had a lease. 

But that was before the laws changed.

Police told Hamilton as much and she proceeded to remove Williams’ belongings from the house not long ago. 

“I had permission from the bank and I also had permission from the police,” Hamilton said. “The police told me there is no more squatters rights, you have the right to take back your property.”

But when she did, neighbors thought the home was being robbed. They called police back to the property.

By that time Williams had come from down the street, brandishing a knife, Hamilton said. 

Hamilton, Williams and Burger exchanged words in a brief altercation. 

Hamilton said she hopped in her car to drive away from the scene, but Williams told police Hamilton was trying to run her over. That’s a claim Hamilton denies. 

Police arrested Hamilton. She was later released without being charged.

“But yet they are back in the house, living,” Hamilton said.

She has vowed to continue to fight to get Williams out of her house, and claims the law is on her side.

"I'm not going to be pushed away in fear, of going to jail of her making a false police report. At the end of the day, you're wrong,” Hamilton said. “When you do bad things someone has to pay the consequences and it can't be the good person paying the consequences. She told her story, now I'm telling mine.”

Sources: WJBK, Curbed Detroit

Photo Source: WJBK